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12 Best Fishing Lakes in Tennessee: Top Lakes for Bass, Catfish, and More

12 Best Fishing Lakes in Tennessee: Top Lakes for Bass, Catfish, and More

Tennessee is known for its many rivers and lakes, making it a top destination for fishing enthusiasts. In fact, there are over 50 species of fish that can be found in the Volunteer State!

If you’re looking to reel in a big catch, check out our list of the 12 best fishing lakes in Tennessee. We’ve included some great spots for bass, catfish, trout, and more. So grab your tackle box and head on out – happy fishing!

1. Reelfoot Lake

Reelfoot Lake is located northwest of Tennessee and spans over 15000 acres of surface area with Cypress trees rising tall above the waters and stumps submerged below the surface. It’s perfect for those who love nature as well as fishing since it’s surrounded by lush vegetation that makes for beautiful scenery while you’re out on the water.

Reelfoot Lake is one of the best fishing lakes in Tennessee because it offers a diverse fish population and an exciting atmosphere. The lake is home to black and white crappie, largemouth bass, catfish, sunfish, gar, carp, and more. It also allows tourists to experience local cuisines at its picturesque location.

Reelfoot Lake

2. Pickwick Lake

Pickwick Lake is an excellent lake for fishing. It is situated at the southern boundary of a habitable climate, which produces larger fish than other lakes. Additionally, Pickwick Lake has a 53-mile shoreline length, a maximum depth of 59 feet, and a 47,500-acre surface area. It contains various species, such as largemouth bass, catfish, crappie walleye bluegill, and more.

Pickwick Lake

3. Douglas Lake

Douglas Lake is one of the best fishing lakes due to its proximity to major cities such as Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It offers stunning views of misty mountains and has a dense fish population, making it ideal for anglers.

Douglas Lake spans 30,400 acres, extends 43.1 miles across its shoreline, and has a maximum depth of 140 feet. During the summer months, when thermal stratification occurs, it is best to wait until fall for better fishing opportunities. Various species are available to catch, including black bass, crappie, walleye, and sauger.

Douglas Lake

4. Gibson County Lake

Gibson County Lake is an excellent fishing lake because it provides abundant opportunities for anglers to catch a variety of fish, including largemouth bass, Florida bass, crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish. The lake has facilities such as a boat launching ramp, fish attractors, and rental boats so that visitors can conveniently enjoy their experience. Additionally, Gibson County Lake has low fishing pressure, which makes it ideal for year-round bass fishing at 500 acres in surface area.

Gibson County Lake is located just outside of Trenton in Gibson County, Tennessee, and has a maximum depth of 32 feet with 560 acres of surface area. Visitors can find quality fish of large size, especially at this lake, due to its convenient location and variety of species available. Furthermore, there are tree-covered coves where soft plastics or crankbaits work well during summer months or when targeting shad schools with electronics during spring/fall seasons.

Gibson County Lake

5. Penter Hill Lake

Center Hill Lake is an excellent lake for fishing because it offers a variety of species, such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, white bass, rainbow trout, black crappie, walleye, warmouth, and more. It also has nine marinas with boat docks and lodging facilities for visitors. Furthermore, there are plenty of creeks arms for night fishing during summertime and areas near Falling Water River and Rock Island State Park that are ideal for walleye fishing in springtime.

Center Hill Lake is located near Lancaster in Tennessee, with a shoreline length of 415 lines spanning an area of 18220 acres with a maximum depth of 190 feet. Plenty of boat ramps are available around the lake for easy access to its waters at any time of year.

Penter Hill Lake

6. Percy Priest Lake

Percy Priest Lake is another excellent lake for fishing because of its abundant fish populations and variety of species available. From its six marinas located around the lake, anglers can set out to find a variety of species in the water, including crappie, black bass, catfish hybrid striped bass. The Natural Resource Management Office looks over and maintains three campgrounds, eleven day-use picnic areas, and twelve boat launching ramps around the lake.

The Percy Priest Lake spans over 14200 acres of fishable water, which makes it an ideal destination for families looking for fun activities near their home or vacation spot. Additionally, there are several recreational activities available at this manmade lake, including swimming at its Waterpark Complex located on Old Hickory Bvd exit 11 off I 40 westbound exit ramp.

Percy Priest Lake

7. Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake is another excellent fishing lake in Tennessee due to its large size and variety of fish species. It is the 25th largest lake in the United States, with a shoreline 184 miles long, 2,064 miles of water surface area, and a depth of more than 70ft. Many shallow areas are excellent for fishing, allowing anglers to catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow bass sauger, bluegill catfish, and crappie.

The lake is between Tennessee and Kentucky along the Tennessee River and has over 160 000 acres of water. It’s located near other popular tourist attractions, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which attracts over nine million visitors annually, making it one of America’s most visited national parks.

Kentucky Lake

8. Chickamauga Lake

Chickamauga Lake is a famous fishing lake due to its large size, extensive shoreline, and record-setting largemouth bass. It has more than 30 miles of shoreline and a surface area of 34,500 acres, making it perfect for anglers who want to explore every inch of water. Additionally, the lake contains a variety of fish species, including smallmouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, and bluegill, making it even more enticing for those who love fishing.

Chickamauga Lake is located approximately 30 miles northeast of Chattanooga and stretches for 60 miles from Watts Bar Dam to Chickamauga Dam. There are also over 800 miles of shoreline dotted with spots for boat rentals and public boat launches available around the reservoir if you’re looking for an ideal location to get out on the water or fish from land.

Chickamauga Lake

9. Fort Loudoun Lake

Fort Loudoun Lake is excellent for fishing due to its large surface area, deep maximum depth, and 379-foot shoreline length. It offers a variety of fish species, such as black bass, crappie, sauger, walleye, and catfish, for anglers to catch. Additionally, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has stocked Lake Sturgeon into the rivers upstream of Fort Loudoun since 2000, which adds another layer of excitement for fishermen looking to reel in a state’s endangered species.

Fort Loudoun Lake is located in Knoxville with a surface area of 14600 acres and stretches for about fifty miles along the upper Tennessee River in east Tennessee. The lake offers plenty of opportunities for boaters, birdwatchers, and anglers looking to catch their next meal or trophy-size fish!

Fort Loudoun Lake

10. French Broad River

The French Broad River is a great fishing lake in Tennessee because of the abundance of smallmouth bass and the variety of lures that can be used to catch them. The river meanders for 218 miles before joining the Tennessee River system, making it one of the longest rivers in the state. The crayfish population is high, which attracts both smallmouth bass and larger ones. Anglers have had good fortune out there using gizzard shad, bluegills, minnows, and grubs. Additionally, the lake has 555 miles of fairly complex shoreline with quiet coves, making it easy to find good fishing spots.

The impoundment created by Douglas Dam creates an ideal habitat for smallmouth bass on this lake, located only a few miles from Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee.

French Broad River

11. South Holston Lake

South Holston Lake is an excellent fishing lake in Tennessee for various reasons. First, it offers an abundance of fish species, such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, blue catfish, channel catfish, and crappie. Second, the lake has an impressive surface area of 4862 acres and a shoreline length of 160 miles which provides plenty of space to explore and enjoy nature. Thirdly, numerous recreational activities are held here, such as boat racing events and fireworks displays, which make it even more attractive to visitors.

South Holston Lake is located in Bristol, Tennessee, near the border with Virginia. The lake covers 7 580 acres, with part of it extending into Virginia. It has some of the best bass fishing in Tennessee, with its water level rising and falling about 25 feet between summer and winter. Additionally, during springtime, the South Fork Holston River sees an annual migration of white bass from which fishermen can take advantage.

South Holston Lake

12. Dale Hollow Lake

Dale Hollow Lake is one of the best fishing lakes in Tennessee due to its abundant supply of fish and large variety. It is known for being a hotspot for both rainbow and brown trout and boasting one of the largest smallmouth basses in history. Additionally, marinas around the lake offer pontoon, personal watercraft, and boat rentals so visitors can take advantage of all 620 miles of shoreline.

Dale Hollow Lake covers 27,700 acres with 620 miles of shoreline and has a maximum depth of 130 feet. It is located in northern Tennessee near the Kentucky border and is surrounded by wooded areas that provide ideal habitats for wildlife like ducks, geese, and herons.

Dale Hollow Lake

What to consider when choosing a fishing lake in Tennessee?


When choosing a fishing lake in Tennessee, it is essential to consider the location of the lake. Some lakes are more secluded, while others are near towns or cities. Additionally, some lakes may be better suited for certain types of fish than others.

Minimum length limit

When choosing a fishing lake in Tennessee, it is essential to consider the minimum length limit for the fish you are hoping to catch. For example, many lakes have a 15-inch minimum length limit for bass, which means that any bass caught must be at least 15 inches long. This is important to consider because it will determine how many fish you are able to catch and keep.

Fish species

When choosing a lake to fish in, you must consider what kind of fish you are hoping to catch. Many fish species can be found in Tennessee’s lakes, including bass, catfish, and trout. Bass are typically found in deeper lakes with clear water, while catfish prefer shallower, murky waters. Trout can be found in both deep and shallow lakes but prefer cold water temperatures.

Water conditions

When choosing a fishing lake in Tennessee, it is crucial to consider the water conditions. Most lakes have clear water and are well-stocked with fish. Some lakes also provide amenities such as boat ramps, swimming areas, and picnic tables for visitors’ convenience. However, some lakes may not be suitable for fishing due to poor water quality or limited fish populations. It is essential to research each lake thoroughly before deciding which one best suits your needs.


When choosing a fishing lake in Tennessee, it’s optional to consider the views. Some lakes are more scenic than others, and some offer better opportunities for wildlife watching. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the state’s iconic wildlife, such as bald eagles or ospreys, you’ll want to choose a lake with good visibility.


What types of fish are found in Tennessee fishing lakes?

Tennessee fishing lakes are home to a variety of fish, including bass, catfish, and more. Anglers can find what they’re looking for in terms of fishing opportunities. Tennessee’s diverse fish population is one of the many reasons why the state is a top destination for fishing.

What bait should be used for bass fishing in Tennessee?

When bass fishing in Tennessee, you can use lures such as jigs, soft plastics, and spinnerbaits or live baits such as crayfish and nightcrawlers.

You should use lures rather than live baits since they are more likely to attract larger bass. Additionally, using the right type of lure will depend on the season and weather conditions. For example, when there is more activity on the water’s surface during warmer months, you should opt for a topwater lure. In contrast, when fish are feeding closer to the bottom during cooler months, it’s best to use a weighted hook with slow-moving bait like an artificial plastic worm or minnow imitator.

What is the record for the largest largemouth bass in Tennessee?

The largest largemouth bass in Tennessee is 13 pounds, 8 ounces, and was caught in 1991. It was caught on the Cumberland River near Nashville by John R. Williams Jr. The fish weighed more than twice as much as the previous record holder for largemouth bass in Tennessee, which was 6 pounds, 11 ounces.

What is the best season for crappie fishing in Tennessee?

The best season for crappie fishing in Tennessee is generally considered spring and summer. This is because the water temperature is warm enough to attract the fish but not too warm that it interferes with their ability to feed or breed. Additionally, many of the state’s top crappie fishing lakes are located in higher-elevation areas that experience cooler temperatures during these months.

However, some of Tennessee’s lowland reservoirs may offer better opportunities for crappie fishing during other parts of the year due to their warmer temperatures and greater availability of food sources such as insects and crustaceans. These reservoirs also tend to have fewer restrictions on when you can fish due to their more uniform climate conditions throughout the year.

What are the regulations for fishing in Tennessee?

To fish in Tennessee, you must have a valid fishing license. You can purchase a license online or anywhere that sells hunting and fishing licenses. The license cost depends on the license type you need and how long it is valid. A one-day fishing license, for example, costs $11 for residents and $30 for non-residents. You can find a list of license fees on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency website.

What is the best location for trout fishing in Tennessee?

The best place to go trout fishing in Tennessee is the Great Smoky Mountains, as they hold some of the best fly fisheries in this country. Wading is the preferred method on these small streams and fast rivers where wild trout thrive, while drift boats can be used on rivers with deep sections further away from the bank.

East Tennessee also offers good Smallmouth Bass fishing in some fast-flowing creeks that have natural hatches of mayflies and midges that attract prey. The best time to go after trout is in spring, when they are more active due to changing temperatures and food sources. Trout love cold, clear running water, so it’s crucial to find a watershed with a temperature around 65ºF before beginning your hunt for these delicious creatures.

Are there any special areas for kayak fishing in Tennessee?

Yes, there are a few areas in Tennessee where you can go kayak fishing. The majority of freshwater anglers use light tackle or fly fishing. Still, kayaks provide added mobility and flexibility when it comes to accessing remote areas or maneuvering around obstacles in smaller lakes and rivers. Additionally, some areas, such as Reelfoot Lake and Percy Priest Lake, offer designated kayak launch sites for easier access to the water.